Today, the National Hockey League Board of Governors approved the realignment plan that was proposed last week. The new four division realignment will take effect in the 2013-14 season.
So, what does this mean for the Tampa Bay Lightning?
Well…for starters, the Lightning will be in Division C of the Eastern Conference. There are 8 teams in Division C. The only team that we will still have from the current Southeast Division is the in-state rival Florida Panthers. The others teams in Division C include the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Under the new alignment, all 30 NHL teams will play in all 30 NHL arenas over the course of the season.
Here is the breakdown of what the schedule matrix will look like for the Eastern Conference (via NHL.com)
Eastern Conference (8-team divisions)
Within Conference (Division): 30 games
* 5 games vs. two teams (3 Home/2 Away vs. one team, 2 Home/3 Away vs. one team) AND 4 games vs. five teams (2 Home/2 Away). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 5 X 2 =10 games
* 4 X 5 = 20 games
Within Conference (Non-Division): 24 games
* 3 games vs. each team (2 Home/1 Away vs. four teams, 1 Home/2 Away vs. four teams). Teams rotated on a yearly basis.
* 3 X 8 = 24 games
Non-Conference: 28 games
* 2 games vs. each team (1 Home/1 Away)
* 2 X 14 = 28 games
I am not quite sure why the Lightning was put into Division C. I would have assumed that geographically speaking, it would have been more feasible for the Lightning and Panthers to be in Division D. The addition to Division C will result in longer travel times for the team when they head out of town. This could potentially have a negative impact on the team’s practice schedule and potential days off.
It is sure to be a tough ride since now we will have to contend divisionally with the likes of RW Brian Gionta and the Montreal Canadiens, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference, and RW Nathan Horton of the Boston Bruins, who we have come to have some epic throw downs with.
In the end, there will be some old rivalries to face off with, and some new ones joining the fold, but in true Bolts Nation style, we will see it through until the teslas power down and the lights go dim.
To see how the new alignment plays out for the rest of the league, and the matrix for the Western Conference, you can head on over the www.NHL.com.
What do you think of the new alignment? What impact do you think it will have on the Bolts next season? Let us know how YOU feel in the comments below. You might even have your comments used in an upcoming Bolts by the Bay article.